Inspirational Person: Jane Porter, Sustainable Building Consultant

Jane - bio pic

Jane Porter is a sustainability consultant at Stratos and Co-Founder of HUB Ottawa. She has a Masters of Corporate Environmental Management from the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland), and a Bachelor in International Business from Carleton University. Her passion is innovating for sustainability and her specialty is making it happen through thinking big, collaborating across networks, and facilitating dialogue. 


Jane, from your experience at Stratos (a leading Sustainability Consultant), what are the largest motivating factors for organizations to integrate sustainability?

Three key motivating factors which  I often see in my work, include:

    • Risk management  – Environmental, social and governance issues often represent major risks (and opportunities) that need to be managed by the company if they want to continue to do business.
    • Executive influence – Executive leaders who have a strong vision for sustainability and Board members who ask challenging environmental/social questions influence the organizations’ values and help ensure initiatives are supported and properly resourced.
    • Investment decisions – Investors are increasingly looking to make ‘ethical investments’ and many long term investors don’t want to invest in companies whose entire industry may be moot in 50 years (e.g., fossil fuels).

Can you share with us what you would consider to be the essential success factors to implementing a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plan?

There are factors to implement a successful CSR plan, but here are a few:

  • Executive buy-in – For change to happen, you need to ensure that the plan is supported by top decision-makers. If they don’t see its value, resources required to implement may be re-directed if times are tight.
  • Influence across the organization  – Sustainability cuts across all silos and levels of an organization. Those in charge of the plan need to know how to integrate it into the organization, through collaborating with key players.
  • A clear path forward – A well vetted implementation plan is essential. Companies need to translate high level principles (and wishy-washy sustainability lingo) into tangible actions that make business sense.

As co-founder of HUB Ottawa (a collaborative work space and member community for social entrepreneurs/impact professionals), what do you see the role of entrepreneurship being in terms of current environmental issues? 

Entrepreneurship allows you to challenge and change the status quo. If there are aspects about the way we live that are not working, we need innovators to show us a better way.

When did you become inspired to channel your passion and expertise towards the integration of business and the environment? 

Grassroot organizations play a valuable role in creating meaningful change. However, I was inspired to see the potential for broad reaching solutions in Corporate board rooms, where key decision-makers could be influenced.   

Finally, and in simplest terms, to what degree do you think business has the ability to solve the current social and environmental crises? 

To be honest, I think it’ll take a shock to the system for a major change to happen. We need transformative – not incremental – change.


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{Interested in other Q&A’s with Inspirational People? Check them out here}

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5 thoughts on “Inspirational Person: Jane Porter, Sustainable Building Consultant

  1. “To be honest, I think it’ll take a shock to the system for a major change to happen. We need transformative – not incremental – change.” I sense that this is absolutely right. We are still too comfortable, and too willing to leave the work for future leaders. The transformation required is too big for governments to face with courage. This leaves hope in the hands of ethical investors and the private sector, which means slow, trickle down change.

    Like

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